I love the turning of a New Year. Regardless of whether I set goals, the anticipation of a new start is filled with hope, inspiration and the happy anticipation of things to come.
Pandemic aside, which seems to be throwing curveballs for a lot longer than any of us predicted, using the start of the year to reflect on what you want and where you want to go can be grounding and help you live in line with your values.
So below are 3 inspirational TED Talks, all of people who have followed their own curiosities, leant into their authentic selves, owned their strengths and created stories that have left a much wider impact on society.
1. Shawn Achor – “The Happy Secret to Better Work”
Shawn Achor’s catch phrase on his website is “Happiness is the joy you feel moving towards your potential”. He is a world-renowned teacher and advocate for positive psychology, and shares information about the methods we can all use to be happier in our lives.
In his TED Talk ‘The Happy Secret to Better Work’, Shawn discusses how studying the ‘outliers’ leads to discovering the potential of people, and that “normal is merely average”.
His main focus, though, is helping people to understand that their internal view of the world, or ‘lens’ determines 90% of their happiness, rather than the external factors that we all think matter more (this is actually only 10%). “If we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time,” he says.
Instead of waiting for happiness when we achieve our next success – at which point we move the goalposts and never actually get there – Shawn teaches proven methods for being happy first, which will help you be more successful. He terms this “the happiness advantage.” He has found that people who are more positive in the present work harder, faster and more intelligently – and are subsequently more successful.
Watch his talk for these insights, as well as his proven 21-day formula for increasing happiness in your life, which will lead you towards your own success. Shawn is also a bestselling author and The Happiness Advantage is one book not to miss!
2. Glennon Doyle – “Lessons from the Mental Hospital”
Glennon Doyle’s TED Talk has been viewed over 4 million times since it was posted in 2013, so you know it resonates with people! Glennon Speaks authentically and vulnerably about her personal struggles and experience with mental illness, bulimia and addiction and what prompted her to change course in the messiness of human life.
She has a beautiful concept of feelings being guides for ‘the next right thing’, and speaks honestly about how she tried for so long to numb her feelings, but how learning to experience these without running away helped her to become more “fully human being.”
Through sharing her story, she powerfully imparts wisdom by not shying away from her truth, noting that she is still very much the same sensitive, imperfect person, but that she embraces the “brutiful” nature of life now - that life is equal parts brutal and beautiful, and all the feelings that come with it.
Being authentic may just be her superpower.
3. Brene Brown – “The Power of Vulnerability”
If you haven’t already come across her work, Brene is a researcher, with a history working as a social worker. She is authentic and relatable, hilarious in her speeches, and her life’s work on understanding shame and vulnerability is fascinating. She models vulnerability and acceptance in her own talks through personal examples and sharing of her ‘real self’.
In her TED Talk ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, Brene says “connection is why we are here – it gives meaning and purpose to our lives.” However, shame and fear impacts on this ability to be vulnerable, to be seen, and to truly connect with others. The less we talk about shame, the greater it also becomes.
Brene discovered through her research, that the core traits of those living an authentic, ‘wholehearted’ life include:
Courage – telling the story of who you are with your whole heart, and to be imperfect.
Compassion - being kind to yourself and others; it is hard to treat others this way if you aren’t compassionate to yourself first.
Connection – authentically being yourself, letting go of who you ‘should’ be for who you really are.
Vulnerability – believing it is necessary and embracing the willingness to do something when there is no guarantee.
Brene also speaks about how when we numb vulnerability or our difficult feelings, we also numb everything else – including gratitude, joy and happiness. She encourages everyone to work towards believing ‘I am enough’. When we do, we can be kinder and gentler to people around us, and to ourselves because we have a greater sense of belonging and connection.
Brene also has a beautiful talk on Netflix, ‘The Call to Courage’, which discusses what it takes to choose courage over comfort in a culture defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty.
Her latest book ‘Atlas of the Heart’, “examines the 87 emotions and experiences that define us, and provides a compelling framework to help us all become more emotionally fluent and connected”.
You can find out more about her wonderful work at https://brenebrown.com/. The phrase on her website is “keeping it awkward, brave, and kind.”
So, even if the year hasn’t start off the way we planned, reflecting on these TED talks and the research these thought leaders have done show that connection, being our vulnerable and unique selves, and developing a happy lens for which to look at life can help to not only sustain us in hard times, but help us enjoy the good times that are to come, too.
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